As the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s (FDA) growing regulation of the premium tobacco industry becomes a reality, manufacturers and tobacconists face uncertainties over how they might be able to grow their businesses. With traditional sales and marketing practices, such as distributing free samples to consumers, being banned outright or severely restricted, tobacco businesspeople are looking for new, fresh and legal alternatives.
Addressing these concerns, Michael Herklots, vice president of retail and brand management at Nat Sherman, presented the TPE 2019 keynote speech, “How to Market, Merchandise and Promote in a New FDA Landscape.” Beginning the presentation, Herklots suggested that the title should be changed to “How to Market, Merchandise and Promote in a Constantly Changing Landscape,” subtly reminding the audience that the premium tobacco industry has always faced challenges and found ways to overcome them.
Herklots stressed the importance of every business defining its own brand experience. Drawing on differences between a Mercedes-Benz dealership and a used car lot, Herklots talked about the expectations potential customers had for both business models. While both businesses were extremely successful, they brought in vastly different customers. The key similarity between them was that they knew their customers’ expectations and catered to them.
“Don’t try to be everything to everyone,” Herklots told the audience. “Be the leader of the experience that you provide. Hosting events that cater to your customers’ interests is the easiest way to develop your brand experience.”
Developing your brand experience begins by finding out what is meaningful to the business owner and then crafting experiential events that are inspired by those passions. Events that pull in outside vendors add power to their success and offer a chance to expose new customers to your business.